Closer look: Unified Command prepares to begin cutting Golden Ray cargo ship

GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. – The Unified Command is preparing to remove the Golden Ray cargo ship from the St. Simons Sound in Georgia, and News4Jax got an up-close look at the process Thursday.

The 656-foot vessel has been sitting in the St. Simons Sound for nearly nine months after it overturned in early September.

“We know we’re going to drop some vehicles when we start cutting and lifting these pieces, so that netting is designed to try to keep those large submerge debris inside the EPB (environmental protection barrier),” said Commander Norm Witt.

According to Witt, a perimeter of pilings have been driven into the seafloor and 150-foot sections of mesh netting make up the barrier that protecting the environment from the potential discharge.

“We know the environmental protection barrier is not going to be at 100 percent effective, so we’ve got a very robust response organization set up inside and outside,” Witt said. “We expect there will be debris coming from the vessel during the cuts when pieces are lifted, so there’s a multiple layer of approach for that response.”

Crews are slated to begin tearing into the Golden Ray in mid-July. It’s expected to take eight weeks to complete.

Chris Graff, with Gallagher Marine Systems, said crews have practiced recovery drills, and that a strike team and shore line teams will be ready. The Unified Command said it’s prepared, should there be any delays.

The Coast Guard says its investigation report will be released in September -- one year after the ship capsized.

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